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Ten words on the preached word

Just some fairly random thoughts on what I'd like to see more of in my own preaching and the preaching of others...


  1. Thou shalt worship Christ from the pulpit.  The priestly task of declaring the gospel of God (Rom 15:16) entaileth a twofold direction to the sermon.  The preacher not only standeth before a congregation to declare truth, but before the Lord to worship Him.  Of course 'worship' does not mean putting on airs - feigning the manner of a Cranmer, Spurgeon or Piper.  It does mean happy and humble gratitude in the presence of Jesus.  And of course this twofoldness is accomplished in one and the same task - proclaiming 'Worthy is the Lamb.'
  2. Thou shalt communicate, through both content and style, a tangible sense of the newness of God's revelation.  May such phrases as these perish from our lips: 'Of course we all knoweth do we not...'  We really do not knoweth.  We need to be toldeth.  Hence preaching.  Therefore preach with eager and childlike enthusiasm for the surprising and always disruptive grace of God.
  3. Thy tone shalt be declarative and devotional.
  4. Thy method shalt be expositional and christocentric.  (Of course expositional does not necessitate 'verse by verse')
  5. Thy fevered entreaty shalt not be 'DO' so much as 'LOOK'.
  6. Thou shalt not apologize for the word, whether for its supposed harshness or obscurity or backwardness or unbelievability.  In truth the word is capable of defending itself on all these counts.
  7. Thou shalt not go searching for illustrations.  Thy passage no doubt has plenty of good ones of its own.  Anyone that spendeth time looking for stories to 'lighten up their talk' must be cut off from the congregation.
  8. Thou shalt not go searching for jokes.  There is no doubt plenty of humour in the Scriptures themselves without you searching  Anyone found guilty of the needless and clumsy insertion of 'a joke' shall be stoned to death.  Show no mercy.
  9. Thou shalt not preach that 'Christ is God'.  Thou shalt preach that God is only and always the God revealed in Christ.
  10. Thou shalt not lift up the Lamb because thou art supposed to but because thou canst do no other.


20 thoughts on “Ten words on the preached word

  1. Bobby Grow

    I like #9. Christ does not subsist from God, but in fact is the exact representation so that when we see Him we see the Father!

    I also think your point on jokes is a good one!

  2. Marcus Honeysett

    Nice One Glen,

    particularly point 2 "surprising and disruptive grace". Oh to know better how to expose God to the heart and the heart to God in a community that worships and witnesses with bold faith!

    Keep at it.



  3. yemsee

    how about just one?

    1. Thou shalt only preach Christ and Him crucified in all the Scriptures and by extension all of creation

  4. Marc Lloyd

    Thank you. Amen. I will seek to obey!

    Why must I not preach that X is God, though, since he is and it is true and useful and interesting to say so from the Bible?

  5. Glen

    It's the whole Athanasius thing: "The only system of thought into which Jesus Christ will fit is the one in which He is the starting point."

    So, quite often you'll hear talks saying: 'You know God? (And people nod their heads thinking of some kind of omnibeing, the god of the pub discussion or philosophy faculty). Well,' they'll say 'Jesus is that God.'

    'Really?' says the hearer. 'Because he looks quite different...'

    I'm advocating more of saying: 'God is always the Father revealed in the Son by the Spirit. And (on the same theme) He is the LORD of the OT (not simply One who is just like Him).'

    That kind of thing. But yes you can say 'Jesus is God' I spose, it's just that non-christological thinking on the term 'God' will cause you problems down the line.

  6. Glen

    I thank God my gags are not like other preachers'. They are all completely awesome, utterly hilarious and totally justified. Hand me that rock...

  7. Pingback: A thousand posts in a thousand words « Christ the Truth

  8. Paul MacKinnon

    Glen - I just found your site, and it is lovely. The religious air is full of foolish noise these days, but your 10 words on preaching are sweet echoes of Biblical sanity, May I add one more? I love the power of the English language, but we don't have "Junior church", and so God has taught me that if I be sure to preach to the littlest ones, the rest will surely understand also. The profound conclusions written down by seven and eight year-olds during the sermon has brought tears to my eyes at times. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts as time allows.

  9. Andrew Dawson

    Hello Glen,
    I'm a young man in Christ, seeking to grow and learn how to better serve people in ministries such as preaching. (So thank you, I've appreciated the posts I've read and videos I've seen so far).

    In the few sermons I've preached, I've often tried to think of or find jokes or illustrations or personal examples with the aim of helping the hearers to begin thinking about a main point from the passage or to consider how the truth from God's word impacts their lives.

    Could you elaborate or give more advice following from your points 7 and 8?

  10. Glen

    Hi Andrew,

    Well all of these are somewhat with tongue in cheek, and I break my own commandments commonly. But what I'm getting at is the "direction of travel" in a sermon. Really Christ is addressing His people in the sermon. It's a top-down thing. That doesn't mean it always has to be serious. There's plenty of comedy within the Bible and if it's in your passage then you are duty-bound to communicate it! But sometimes "a joke" or "an illustration" (when it's something we're desperately searching for, rather than something there in the passage) is an attempt to be a "bridge-builder" in our sermons. It conceives of the sermon as bridging the divide between the old world of the Bible and the contemporary world of our hearers. And I don't think that's the right way to conceive of things. Whatever we can do to communicate "Thus saith the Lord" in preaching is worth doing. And beginning with the Bible itself - announcing it as God's own word to be heard for its own sake - is the best way to communicate that.

  11. Marcus Hockley

    Hi Glen,

    Last year's Nativity films were brilliant, thanks for all the time and effort you guys put in to make them happen.

    My role at a church in Kent is Children & Families Pastor so I often have the privilege of preaching to the kids, my boss is a former Evangelist and stresses the importance of illustrations when communicating with kids, something that they can relate to and get a hold of to understand the passage I'm speaking from. In light of number 7, what would you say to this? Would be great to hear your thoughts, keep up the great work! Marcus :-)

  12. Glen Scrivener

    Hi Marcus,
    The point about #7 is to make sure your illustrations are flowing from the Bible rather than to it. I use lots of illustrations but I try to start with the ones already in the passage. And there will be other illustrations that occur to you as you're meditating on the word. But it should spring out of the gospel truths rather than beginning with 'Fortnite' or 'Fidget Spinners' or the latest craze and then trying to bring things around to the Scriptures.

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